2017 was the year I finally started posting regularly on this blog. At the beginning of the year, I set the challenge to myself that I would read 50 books in the year. After a very long hiatus over the summer, I didn’t make it to anywhere near that number, but I still managed to make it to 20 by the end of the year.
It makes me a bit sad when I look at the numbers that I read so many books that I felt kind of “meh” about. Many of them were for my monthly bookclub, so I felt obliged to finished them so that I would have something to say. But out of the whole list of what I read, I was able to pick out a top five that were my standout favourites from this year.
#5: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
I think the main reason why this one made it into my top 5 is because I just read it in December, so it’s right at the front of my mind right now. Still, I really enjoyed this story. We are scheduled to discuss this one in the January bookclub meeting, so I’m interested to see what everyone else thought of it.
I love books that are entertaining and educational at the same time. Japan’s involvement in World War II is something that you don’t really read about all that often, but this story really goes into detail about how Japanese people were treated in the US during that time. At the same time, it’s a beautiful story about love and regrets, and I loved it how those two things were tied together.
Also, I love anything where there are two perspectives or concurrent stories going on at the same time. In this book, the author tells the story of the main character, Henry, from the perspective of two points of time in his life. You read one or two chapters from his childhood, and then you’re brought forward to later in his life for a different aspect of the story. I thought this was very well done in this book.
#4: The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton
This one was recommended to me by my partner, and I really enjoyed it, as she predicted. If you liked The Girl on the Train, then I really recommend this book for you. It focuses on a group of girls in an exclusive boarding school in England. There’s this dark “thing” that happened one night, but it isn’t revealed right away what happened…
This book is dark and mysterious, and I really couldn’t put it down until I found out what happened. Again, the author has woven together the story of “that time” and the current day. Also, it’s set in a boarding school. Ever since I read Enid Blyton’s The Naughtiest Girl in the School series when I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by boarding school stories. What more could you want?
#3: The Conjoined by Jen Sookfong Lee
Again, this is a book that I just read in December, but this one I really believe deserves to be in this top 5 list. The main character, Jessica, discovers two bodies in her mother’s freezer when she is cleaning the house after her recent death. It sounds like it’s going to be a mystery, but really it’s more a story about family, the foster care system, and grief.
I found this one to be a real page-turner, and it was a very quick read. The ending wasn’t my favourite, but I liked the rest of the book enough to look past that and I still recommend it.
#2: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
We’ve had a bit of a spotlight on Africa in our bookclub, and this was one of the choices. I had never heard of Trevor Noah before I read his book, but I still really enjoyed it.
This is another of those books that’s super entertaining while at the same time giving you a serious education. Trevor Noah was, literally, born a crime. His father was a white Swiss man and his mother a black Xhosa woman, a union which was a punishable crime when he was born. His mother had to go through all sorts to hide the fact that he son was a different colour than her.
This book is full of little anecdotes from Trevor Noah’s life. Most of them have some hilarious aspect, while at the same time being serious stories about life growing up in South Africa during and at the end of apartheid.
I read the ebook, but the bookclub consensus was that the audiobook is hilarious as well. Trevor Noah narrates his own book and lends some of his stand-up style to the whole thing. I plan to listen to the audiobook one of these days.
#1: The Break by Katherina Vermette
The Break was on the shortlist for Canada Reads 2017 and, to be honest, I really think it should have won. Again it’s a book where there are different perspectives interwoven chapter by chapter, and with this one they are all points of view of different characters in the story.
It’s a mystery but it’s also a story about the people. It’s about family ties, strong women and mothers, bias, and Canada. I think everyone should read this book.
Well that’s my top 5. I’m surprised that only 2 of my 5 favourites are Canadian, because I read a lot of Canadian books this year. I think that might be because I didn’t enjoy some of the Canada Reads books quite as much as I would have thought, although I am really glad I got to read The Break.
I really hope that I get to read more than 20 books in 2018, so that I have more to choose from when looking back at the end of the year!